ďA tutorís learning
style profoundly influences his or her tutoring style, and if
tutor and tutee learning styles clash, frustration and trouble
can ensue. Identifying and describing both learning styles then
becomes one pivotal element in crafting a successful tutor-tutee
relationship.Ē -- John Wolfe
The way a person
prefers to learn is called his/her learning style. There is no
right or wrong, good or bad learning style. It has nothing to do
with intelligence or skills. It has everything to do with the way a
person's brain works to learn and store information efficiently.
Since everyone learns differently, understanding learning styles can
help you become a better tutor.
By examining learning
styles, you will become aware of how each person's brain learns
best. This awareness gives you and your tutees the chance to study
effectively. Itís important to be aware of information about
learning styles as well as tips on how to tutor students with
learning styles different from yours.
The study of learning
styles is quite complex. While there is a general agreement that we
all learn in a unique way, there are many different theories as to
defining and categorizing the various ways that people think and
learn. For the purposes of this lesson, and diagnosing your approach
to learning, we will focus on the more common or general theories.
The most basic inventories group people into three categories:
Auditory (learn by hearing), Tactile (learn by doing), and Visual
(learn by seeing or writing).
In order for tutors to
know how to work with tutees of diverse learning styles, you will
first need to be aware of your own learning strengths. Get to know
more about your particular learning preferences by taking this
learning style questionnaire. When you are done with the
survey, click the Submit Query button to reveal your style.
Then click HERE to see a summary of the different styles.
Everyone has a
combination of ways in which s/he learns. But most people have a
predominant style. You should use your self-assessment scores to
start thinking about how you most effectively study and learn.
You may also want to
try to broaden your learning stylesóit never hurts to try to improve
oneís auditory comprehension if one is a primary visual learner.
Taking a multi-sensory approach will both help overall comprehension
and ability to retain information through many avenues for
learning. Refer to the charts below to get a better understanding of
the 3 sensory learning styles.
to this Style
Suggestions for studying
to be able to see the information.
Artistic talent in the visual arts.
Difficulties following spoken directions.
Misunderstanding or misinterpretation of spoken material.
Overreaction to sounds.
Underline, highlight, or circle printed material.
Borrow othersí notes, compare to own.
pictures in notes to illustrate concepts.
- Use a
variety of colorsóin pens, pencils, markers, highlighters,
paper, etc. for different categories or concepts.
outlines, pictures, graphs, charts, and diagrams.
with many colors.
sure you can take any visual materials away with you--from
class, tutoring and study group sessions, etc., so you can
go back and look at them.
to this Style
Suggestions for studying
Preference of material which can be listened to.
Difficulties following written directions.
Spoken expression is much more effective than written.
Difficulties reading non-verbals.
Closing eyes to better understand spoken material (but NOT
in groups and talk things out.
out problems aloud.
Record lectures, tutoring and study group sessions, etc.
(makes a permanent verbal record of material).
texts out loud (into recorder).
Listen to lecture/text tapes while driving, walking, working
Dictate papers, to be typed later.
to this Style
Suggestions for studying
Preference for hands-on learning.
assemble parts without reading directions.
to be able to touch or manipulate what is being learned.
letters of words with finger (to memorize spelling, for
finger as a guide while reading material.
and type out or rewrite class notes.
hands onóin science or computer labs, for exampleódonít just
watch someone else do it.
modelsóof the human brain, DNA, etc.
charts or diagrams of relationships.
Learning Styles New Horizons for Learning
Itís important to be aware
of your own learning strengths, but itís just as important for a
tutor to be aware of other learning styles. Tutors should look for
clues to how their students think and learn. You can conduct an
informal assessment without making it obvious to the tutee. You
will notice characteristics of their learning styles in the way they
take notes, talk about their teachers, react to their assignments,
and respond to your questions. You can ask them some of the same
questions you answered in your self assessment.
Once you have an idea
about your tuteeís learning style, you should apply certain
techniques that compliment his/her thinking.
Look over these
Tutoring Tips based on Learning Style
them to explain the material to you, as if they were the
them to read explanations out loud.
student to make up a song using the subject material. The
crazier the better.
the students they can review audio tapes while they drive.
them that when they are learning new information, state the
problem out loud. Reason through solutions out loud.
student to say words in syllables.
them to our audio cassettes.
them to make up and repeat rhymes to remember facts, dates,
sure they go over all important facts aloud.
the student to join or create a study group, or to get a
learn a sequence of steps, write them out in sentence form,
then read them out loud.
student to use mnemonics and word links.
the student in a discussion of the material.
them to the LAC audio/videotapes.
them to pick up the book as they are reading or talking.
them write while they are reading or talking.
them to walk around the LAC for appropriate books and other
them to sit near the front of their classroom and to take
notes. This will keep the student focused.
them to spend extra time in any labs offered.
them to use the computer to reinforce learning using their
sense of touch.
them write lists repeatedly.
them to exaggerate lip movements in front of a mirror.
them to stand while they explain something to you.
them to use rhythm (beats) to memorize or explain something.
student is explaining something, have the student point to
the subject matter in the book, on the board, etc., while
reading it out loud.
them to use gestures when giving explanations.
them to make models that demonstrate the key concept. (The
purpose here is the act of making the model.)
students to use hands-on experience when possible.
flashcards for each step in the procedure. Put the cards in
order until the sequence becomes automatic.
audio tapes from classes. They can play them while they
walk or exercise.
them to stretch and move in the chairs .
blackboard or notepaper for both of you to write questions
Encourage the use of color-coded highlighting.
graph paper to help them create charts and diagrams that
demonstrate key points. (Only spatial visual learners use
them use mnemonics, acronyms, visual chains, and mind maps.
them to our books.
them to use the computer to organize materials, to create
graphs, tables, charts, and spreadsheets.
the student to organize the material.
you ask them to explain something, suggest they do so by
writing the explanation down.
them to make flashcards, then use them during the session/s.
The act of writing (the cards) and viewing them doubles
Encourage them to visualize the scene, formula, words,
them to the LAC computer programs.
Integrating these ideas
into your tutoring will improve the learning relationship. You will
be modeling study behavior that the tutee can use in the classroom
and when studying independently.
Research on learning
styles can get rather complex and theoretical. You are not expected
to be an expert on the subject, but itís important that tutors are
aware of the variation in thinking and learning. Remember, itís
important to keep the tutoring session fun and unintimidating.
Visit the website
Humor and the Multiple Intelligences to get some ideas on how to
use humor with different kinds of learners.
There are many other
theories, formulas, and approaches to studying learning styles. One
of the foremost educational researchers on the subject is
His theory on Multiple
Intelligences is more in depth than the Sensory Learning Styles that
we looked at above. Gardnerís continuing work on the way people
think and learn is broadening educatorsí perspectives and including
more people in the learning community. -If you are interested in
finding out more about your learning preferences, you should take
The Multiple Intelligence Inventory.
Another common study of
human thinking involves the left and right sides of the brain. You
might have heard references to a person being left-brained or
right-brained. We have to be careful not to oversimplify this and
other theories. -Itís also important to avoid using these theories
as excuses or stereotypes that pigeonhole people instead of
providing useful information. Look at this site on
Left or Right Brain?. Take the test "Are You Right Brained or
Left Brained?" at the bottom of the page. This will provide you with
further understanding of the way we think and learn.
Each student learns
differently, at a different rate, using different learning styles.
Everyone has a learning style. Our style of learning, if
accommodated, can result in improved attitudes toward learning, as
well as increased self-esteem and academic achievement. By
identifying your learning style and becoming familiar with other
styles, you will become a more effective and creative tutor.
Look at these sites to
learn more about learning styles:
Learning Styles and How to Maximize Your Success in School